After a solid seven-hour drive from Philadelphia to the lower Finger Lakes of New York State, five kids hastened down the steep hill—as much a result of gravity as eagerness—to reach the small beach tucked away behind trees at the end of the paved walkway. Passing beyond the cover of the trees, they—we—dumbly shuffled through the sand and pebbles, unable to express anything in words or phrases without a metaphorical exclamation point at the end. Only the speckled green mountains that dominated the landscape seemed able to confine the lake’s remarkably blue body; shadows cast by bloated clouds glided tantalizingly over the entire scene.
Rewind to several months earlier, when my mother informed me of our approaching vacation to Lake George. To briefly summarize my suburbanite enthusiasm for the trip, let me explain what I took away from the conversation: “We’re staying in cabins.”
In any case, the third week of August arrived, and my family of four and the five-member family of our friends embarked on the voyage, cars overloaded to the point of explosion. After our initial arrival at the Clinton Inn, we unpacked, took in the view at the beach, and grabbed about eighty brochures from the main office; the week was loosely planned before the end of the day.
For our first adventure, we rented a motorboat and a giant tube from the marina in Bolton Landing. The boat pulled away from the pier and picked up speed, yet our course appeared scenic but aimless as the two fathers drove the boat around the bent limbs of the mountains; however, we soon arrived at a promising stretch near a public beach. The first volunteer then jumped into the blue-green water, swam out to the tube—which was attached to the boat by a rope—and comically struggled to climb on top. Upon their signal, the father playing captain at the time would start the boat and drive around, while the rest of us boisterously watched my friend’s twelve-year-old sister flopping around like a doll on the tube, and ultimately flying off the back. By day’s end, the entire party was bragging and whining over the bruises they’d earned from bouncing on the rough tube.
Another day, we started off on our anticipated, if unwanted, hike. In theory, the trail would lead us to Shelving Rock Falls. In theory. We took a wrong turn though. Our alternative route took us around coves and bends in the lake, until we found our way to a softly sloped rock dipping into the lake, partially covered slime. With five kids already in bathing suits, one can easily guess what happened next. Eventually, we somehow reached the top of that enigmatic waterfall…and proceeded to slide down its bottom rocks. WARNING: Do not attempt without adult supervision. Also, water is cold. Very, very cold.
Our first trip to the town at Lake George revealed more wonders: nostalgic stores, lakeside restaurants, parks tucked into hillsides, and the elusive Minnie Ha Ha, the giant ferry boat we had watched pass by the beach everyday. At Lake George, one might find anything from the slightly terrifying Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course, to the natural grandeur of the Stone Arch, to historic Fort William Henry, the basis for the book and movie The Last of the Mohicans—which had my mother insisting upon running through the forest like Daniel Day-Lewis. ClichÃ©d though it may be, words cannot possibly describe the experience that this escape has to offer. I cannot remember a time when I have gone to bed more totally and blissfully exhausted.
Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.